Security sources in Ben Gurion International Airport reported Friday that an Israeli commercial airliner belonging to Israir nearly collided with a Turkish Airlines plane in midair.
According to the initial inquiry, the incident occurred when the Israeli plane was descending to land and the Turkish airliner failed to maintain the proper distance.
The air traffic control tower was luckily able to warn the planes, preventing the collision at the last moment. The Israir plane was carrying 4 crewmen; the Turkish airlines flight was carrying hundreds. No injuries or damage were reported.
The Israel Airports Authority said only that "the air traffic controller allowed the Turkish plane to fly below the mandatory distance."
The IAA has formed an official committee of inquiry. Preliminary assumptions suggest that the incident was the result of lapse in judgment on the controller's part, after he apparently gave the pilots incoherent instructions. The air traffic controller was unavailable for comment.
"Our plane was on a training flight," Israel Ben-Haim, Israir's CEO told Ynet Friday. "It was approaching for landing and was cleared to land. As far as we know, the (air traffic control) tower told him to turn left instead of right… our pilot spotted the Turkish plane across from him and then to his left. This was a professional pilot who performed according to all necessary procedures."
Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz published a report regarding the grave malfunctions by the Ben Gurion Airport air traffic control tower several weeks ago; stating, among other conclusions, that the tower must be relocated and elevated.
A similar incident occurred las year, when El-Al and an Iberia Airlines planes came dangerously close to each other when approaching to land. That incident was determined as pilot error on Iberia's part.